Myth and possible stories

Great quote from a William Doty essay:

Myths die when they are no longer retold and revised. Mackey-Kallis proposes that myths “must change in culturally specific fashions if they are to speak to the changing conditions and concerns of the culture. Myths that do not evolve are no longer useful and often fade away. A living myth, therefore, is a responsive myth (233, my emphasis; she gives examples using the myth of the American West). Such a requirement leads her to an emphasis that falls within the third aspect of mythological interpretation: ”The mythic critic can also ask to what extent does the story that is being told open up interpretive possibilities rather than close them down?“

Such a critic may become quite unpopular when dealing with new potentials for revered and familiar myths within a scriptural canon! Imagine applying to a parable of Jesus the following question by Mackey-Kallis: ”To what extent does the myth allow for, even invite, multiple stories, with possibly different moral lessons for living, to coexist in the same mythic universe and possibly even inside of the same story?“ (233).

This fits perfectly with my own work where I have been critical of work in journalism and myth that merely looks for the mythic prototype or structure in contemporary news without asking how it is reinventing rather than just repeating the myth in a new guise.

Ref: Mackey-Kallis, Susan. 2001. The Hero and the Perennial Journey Home. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P.

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